Records: Lakers 53-20 (2nd in West), Mavericks 53-21 (3rd in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.8 (2nd in NBA), Mavericks 110.0 (8th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 104.6 (7th in NBA), Mavericks 105.2 (10th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Mavericks: Jason Kidd, Rodrigue Beaubois, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler
Injuries: Lakers: Devin Ebanks & Theo Ratliff (out); Mavericks: Caron Butler & Dominique Jones (out), Corey Brewer (questionable)
The Lakers Coming in: What else can really be said at this point? The Lakers are rolling, they’re succeeding with defense, and with each passing game they seem to be inching closer to the level they’d like to be at for another post season run.
Sure, there’s a chance they catch the Spurs for the #1 seed in the West and there’s still a chance that they could pass the Bulls for the #2 seed for the playoffs overall. That said, I stick with what I’ve been saying for some time: it’s more important that the Lakers be playing their best ball than play in a specific arena. Said another way, the Lakers play what I like to call a mobile game. They’re not a shooting team that is boosted by playing on their home court. They don’t rely on a set of streaky players that need to be at home to consistently play their best. The Lakers’ size, Kobe, and a playoff tested roster can win anywhere when playing at their top guear and venue isn’t the biggest priority. Still though, I’d be lying if I said I’d rather them play a game 7 on the road rather than at home. So, I won’t be turning away wins or a shot at the number 1 seed.
As for the bottom of the playoff draw, I’ve never been a proponent of seeking out a specifc foe and thus advocating a loss in order to draw a specific path for advancement. First of all, the standings at the bottom of the West are too tight to accurately predict and second of all I want the momentum to continue progressing. A loss for the sake of facing a specific opponent may seem logical, but I’d rather the team win as many games as possible and let the chips fall where they may. For all the talk of the Lakers wanting to avoid a specific team, I think it’s more logical to look at this from the perspective of potential opponents. I mean, who really wants to play the Lakers right now?
The Mavericks Coming in: Because we’ve been focused on how well the Lakers have been playing, you may not have noticed that the Mavs have reeled off 5 straight wins of their own. Granted the competition wasn’t that tough but at this point in the year a win against any opponent is key as the race for seeding has taken on extra importance. With those wins, the Mavs have been able to stay only a half game behind the Lakers with only one more loss than our guys. Simply put, they’re not going away and they continue to play strong ball.
And as it’s been all year they’re carried by a veteran crew that just knows how to win games. Dirk is again an MVP candidate that puts up numbers extrememly efficiently. Kidd and Terry provide steady play that only picks up with the game on the line. Marion and Chandler are working well in the paint as rebounders and scorers when the D’s attention is too perimeter focused. And they offer a variety of role players (Cardinal, Beaubois, Peja, Haywood, Barea) that each bring a different dimension to capitalize on the weaknesses of any given opponent. This is just a well constructed team that should not be discounted.
Mavericks Blogs: Check out The Two Man Game for consitently excellent analysis. Also visit Mavs Moneyball as they also do a great job covering this team.
Keys to game: It was only 2 weeks ago that these teams played last. In that game, the Lakers bigs (especially Andrew Bynum) proved to be the difference as the Lakers edged the Mavs by 5 points and pulled even with the Mavs in the win column. Since that game, the Lakers have passed the Mavs to take sole control of the West’s 2nd seed but if they want to keep it that way (the Lakers are up by only a half a game with the same number of wins and only one fewer loss) they’ll need a similar effort from their bigs tonight.
And with that in mind, I’m going to go away from the individual matchups for once and try to zero in on a few themes that I think will really be key tonight. I mean, we all know the names at this point – Dirk, Kobe, Pau, Terry – and surely the individual match ups those players face and how efficiently they go about their business will matter. But what I’m really looking at tonight are the themes of a game. Those include:
An inside/out offense: Dallas has one reliable interior defender in Tyson Chandler. If he picks up fouls or can’t contain Andrew Bynum, this game will tilt heavily in the Lakers’ favor. The ball must go inside early and often to allow the Lakers to set up the tempo of the game and play to their strengths. Remember too that Chandler is quick to show help to his mates while then trying to recover to the glass to rebound. I’d love to see the Lakers attack the paint with players other than Bynum so that Drew can take advantage of a vacated Chandler to pick up extra possessions.
Rebounding: The Lakers must control their own defensive glass and finish defensive possessions by securing the ball. In the last game Dallas secured 15 offensive rebounds. Dallas is the 8th most efficient scoring team in the league and extra possessions only give Dirk, Terry, and the rest of their scorers another chance to hurt the Lakers. Shawn Marion’s activity was especially damaging as his 7 offensive rebounds were a game high. He needs to be boxed out and Ron/LO can’t be caught staring at other offensive threats when they need to be boxing out and attacking the glass.
Mid-range jumpshooting: You’d be hard pressed to find another team that shoots the mid-range jumper as well as the Mavs. Dirk and Terry are both excellent shooters and both can get their shots in a variety of ways – in isolation, off screens, and in P&R actions. The Lakers need to stick to their normal defensive scheme but be more active in contesting these shots than they are vs. other opponents. Bynum, Gasol, and Odom will need to play the P&R well by closing off the paint but still providing a contest of these shots of ball handlers turn the corner looking to shoot in rhythm. This game can turn if one of Dirk or Terry get hot, so the Lakers need to zero in on these guys.
Bench play: The big story going into this game will be the supposed battle between Terry and Odom as they’re the leading candidates for 6th man of the year. But it will be the play of Blake, Brown, and Barnes that I’m really focusing on. Barnes’ activity on D and on the glass could be especially troubling for the Mavs as they don’t have an active wing in his mold that can really stay with him in all aspects of the game. Barnes will likely find himself matched up with Peja a lot, so I’d love to see Matt hit the glass hard and run the lane in hopes of getting a couple of easy baskets in transition. As for Brown and Blake, their defense will be key when matching up with Terry. They can not leave him on screens and can’t be over eager to help teammates and abandon their responsibilities on JET. If history has proven anything, Jason Terry is a Laker killer and he needs to be accounted for at all times.
In the end, there may not be a more important regular season game down the stretch. It’s still very likely that the Lakers face this team in the playoffs and a win tonight can reiterate to the Mavs the challenge they’re up against. If the Lakers can effectively hit on three of the above keys, they have a good chance of winning.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm tip time on TNT. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710am.
Pat B says
For Warren! Love the Pau vs. Dirk match-up.
i’d like to see artest punish the smaller jason kidd: drain his stamina by forcing him to deny artest post position and keep ron off the glass.
Gr8 Scott says
Huge regular season game. Let’s get it on! Go Lakers!
Yea, Ron doesn’t really have anyone to guard to let’s see him punish the Mavs on defense by trying to cross match Marion onto Kobe.
I am w/ chibi
Artest 1st 5x down the floor on the block.
2, 4,5, agreed, if only because it’ll either be A.) extremely successful, or B.) extraordinarily hilarious. Hopefully, a combination of both.
Jackson may want to get the bench in shape in these last few games, but hopefully tonight’s game is too important to him as well to stick with them too long if they don’t play well.
That said, I’ll be looking to see if he puts Barnes on Nowitzki for a stretch. Barnes hounded him during the infamous Golden State series a few years back. Him, Pau and Odom should make my fellow German work quite a bit for his usual 20-10.
Oh… I just found out there is a game before the Lakers/Mavricks. The NBA decided to televise an old timers game for the undercard… Celtics at Spurs. I’m not a fan of the thirty-five and older league usually, but this game could be the exception.
Renato Afonso says
I’d like to see some zone traps against the Mavs. Dirk’s favorite shooting spot is the elbow on teither side, so with a more zonal approach we can swarm him with arms and make it more difficult to put up a shot. However, such defense against Laker Killer JET also worries me… Not sure what to do against him if they go for a zonal approach.
Kidd is extremely strong. And Artest isn’t a good enough post player that the height advantage makes a difference. Instead, Artest would just pound the ball for 9-10 seconds and stall the offense and then throw up a poor shot. Sometimes Artest’s post-ups are successful (when there’s no big man helping, and he bulls his way in for an awkward layup). But we have better offensive options, and I think we’d throw our offense out of rhythm by trying to wear down Kidd.
But I would like to see Artest force Kidd to bang with him down low. Attack him when rebounding, etc. I’d just rather not see us try to repeatedly post Artest up on offense and try to score through him, when we have much better options.
Spurs vs. Celtics
Now that’s a game where I want to see 4 OT or even 5 OT.
Wait, let me rephrase that. That’s a game where I want them to GO 4 or 5 OTs and wear each other out. I don’t personally want to be a witness to those two being matched up.
What would interest me is the reaction of the two coaches who are both keen on saving their old players’ minutes. If the game goes OT, will they just call it in, even if a win means quite a bit at this stage?
Anyway, I’m guessing that for this game, most Laker fans would hope that SA loses.
The key to this game is Luke Walton. We need to give Luke some big minutes tonight. I think it is good to have a guy who knows how to catch the ball, hold it awhile, and then pass it to another teammate. Well seriously, this is a huge game. We win this game we don’t only gain a win in the standings, but we take their confidence against us too.
David R. says
11. tell me about it… im remaining as neutral as possible.. this is the type of game you’d love if the NBA could end a tie, and both teams could only get half a win. Nothing wrong with dreaming. though since Boston has less wins and We are competing directly with SA, of course i want SA to get the loss. – Lets go Lakers! bring that energy tonight!
If the Lakers beat the Spurs in their last head to head and the Lakers and Spurs end up tied at the end of the season, who owns the tiebreak?
rondo has stolen all of ray allen’s shooting mojo.
14, I think it’s record against teams in their own division. too lazy to find out exactly what that is for each team, but i’m guessing we’re good.
Celtics looked extremely tough tonite while
Spuz look very anemic. I could see them going
down in the first round.
That’s why I think for the lakers it’s MORE important to have HCA over the entire east
rather than the spurs. (if we can only have
one and not both). Good news is that celtics
have to travel to Atlanta and play tomorrow night
so they will have a tough time winning there. But lakers have to go to Utah. Let’s get tonites W
and at least close the deal on Dallas.
14/16, I think first is to see who’s the division leader, then it’s record against teams in the same conference.
On the whole, I think I woulda wanted S.A. to win. We’re still a huge longshot to catch them and anything that keeps Boston down is a good thing. They’re a bunch of insufferable boors, but I have to respect them and won’t believe they’re dead until some other team is hoisting the Larry O’Brien.
Pau then Kobe with the mid-range J’s.
The Dude Abides says
Yes, if the Lakers beat the Spurs in their last meeting and end up with the same record as SA, then the tiebreaker will go down to conference record, with the Lakers likely having the edge.
Both teams red hot from mid-range and moving the ball well. I could be a homer here, but I think that bodes well that we’re holding serve in the 1st quarter as that was where we might be vulnerable b/c of rust. Be interesting to see if the Mavs can keep up this same energy in the 4th on 0 days rest.
Battle for the Sixth man of the Year..I guess so.
Bench doing a lottta the little things. But way to miss an open Pau twice, Shannon
Throw it down, big man!
Sorry, my inner Bill Walton pops up every now and again…
Love the look on Pau’s face after that dunk by Drew. It looks like this team is really enjoying playing together lately.
Andrew Bynum is showing the world how good he
is tonite. Meanwhile blake and barnes playing
great off the bench.
*Beating chest* & Yelling “BYNUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Barnes looking good!
Chris D says
Is it just me or did Dick Stockton call Derek “Jeff Fisher”?
Fisher and Blake in at the same time? Interesting, considering how Phil hates to let the opposing team dictate matchups.
36 – that’d be a Titan-ic mistake 🙂
Wow! Some soft fans sitting courtside. Kobe crashes n to them while excerpting excellent hustle and they look offended. Give the man an assist and brace his fall. Damn.
Not closing the half well…
And why did we get outrebounded 25-18?!
does kobe think if he makes one 3 he is all of a sudden matt bonner?
i hate how we do not move the ball on closing possessions, I hope this is a ploy to deceive teams in the playoffs. Since, they will all expect the iso “jack up” shot, quick 2 passes can shift the defense and get us a higher percentage shot.
How many times have you seen Kobe go for the “Dagger” three, miss, and the other team gets right back into the game.
I know posting Bynum or Pau time and time again may be boring basketball, but why can’t we just do that and win the game??!!
Busboys4me: I think I would agree about that Kobe “dagger” 3 comment. It does seem to happen an awful lot.
But then again, we forget the misses pretty quickly when he makes a key one!
Reggie should not be allowed to be an announcer for Laker games. He is such a hater!!!
just lost some respect for pau right there, in less the ball slipped.
defense is picking up and creating separation, the bench has to sustain this same effort and not let it dwindle.
edit: nice tip in though
Chippy 2nd half with a lot of fouls called already.
refs are making their presence felt too much – very liberal with the whistle on both sides, and we got the benefit of some sketchy calls.
New drinking game: drink every time you see Cuban show animated frustration when Lakers score. Or just watch in amusement.
Any chance we can get Kobe to pass the ball a bit? Too much one-on-one, no need for it…as I say this he drains an “and 1” over Kidd, but the point remains. Why not pound them in the paint?
lakers doing a good job of controlling the tempo with good offense.
This is the first Lakers game I’ve watched in a week or two (STL resident so not many televised games). I’m loving Blakes aggressive penetration on offense, finally looking comfortable out there.
drink = watch in amusement.
as for Kobe going for the dagger, well, as long as he isn’t launching them when we’re not in position to rebound, i’m good with that.
what exactly are we doing differently to reduce TOs?
It’s kinda refreshing and unbelievable at the same time to see us rarely turn the ball over more than our opponents.
how many drinks would have been consumed this year if we used Shannon mishandling the ball as the criteria?
did bynum orchestrate that 3 by odom?
Lamar icing the 6th man award with that triple at the end of the 3rd quarter there. Well, in my opinion he’s had it on lock for a while, but we all know that a good game in which another contender (Terry) for an award is playing is somehow seen as more of an indicator.
Tej – More drinks than are considered medically safe I would imagine!
The Refs are more chippy than the players!!!
around a keg, Tej?
Reduce turnovers = Limiting Shannon handling the rock.
Shannon Brown is so frustrating to watch. His basketball IQ is still not where it should be and I am not sure it will ever get there. The sad part is that Shannon always finds a way to get himself into tough spots either through over-dribbling, taking kobe-difficulty shots or ending up among trees.
But then he has nights when he goes for few threes, couple of amazing dunks, 15 points and we all forget about that
Stop… Odom time.
Odom with back-to-back-to-back threes.
If that’s not an omen, I don’t know what is 🙂
Odom rising to the occasion. Who’d have thought.
Whatever it is that Khloe cooks for him (maybe it’s the fragrance) it seems to be working miracles.
Maybe we should have stuck a Khardasian on Shannon…
LO not getting 6th man because of a “technicality” would be a travesty. I think smart money is on him.
As I write this, two more consecutive threes…reminds me of Kobe/Paul MVP showdown back in 08 (think sick Kobe double clutch reverse dunk) where Kobe basically filled in the writers’ votes
Terry who? 2-8 FGs
LO solidifying that 6th Man of the Year Award
NYC represent baby
Also, maybe Blake’s earlier season play set the bar real low, but even though he’s 0-5, I like what I’ve seen from him tonight – his aggressiveness and activity and making the extra pass have been nice to watch
Lamar playing for the cameras of his reality show or what? OMG he hit another one haha loving it.
on another note how hilarious would it be if Shannon got pulled over on suspicion of DUI, although he has not drank, and the Cop asks him to dribble a bball quickly as a sobriety test. LOL
52. harold, I honestly think it is attention to detail. Doing all the little things, coming to the ball on a pass and not waiting for it to come to you, passing the ball into the players pocket, and most of all many turnovers came from passes over the defense when they fronted the post. Lakers have tidied these areas up, but other factors are also probably at play.
lol at the ejections, refs get real.
Odom quickly moving in for the double double, among other things…
OOHHHHH!! I like it!!! Can’t wait for these playoffs. Blake was like “WHAT’S UP HOMIE!?”
It’s looking like a Lakers blow out is brewing.
If so, a very pleasant surprise – I figured they would let up and lose this one.
If pushing a skinny white PG is Terry’s way of proving he isn’t soft, he should try harder
Wow, four players ejected! Barnes was a great pick-up for the Lakers, talk about toughness.
Tony Starks says
Love. Matt. Barnes.
The blowout is on and Terry goes for the cheap shot. If that doesn’t show that the Lakers are in the Mavs’ heads I don’t know what does.
That being said, Barnes is probably gone for 3 or 4 games, if not longer. Hope Terry gets a couple, too.
ROFL @ Kobe: NO ONE pull an Amare PLEASE.
ok so barnes is gonna get suspended for sure so… Joe and Zephid get ready baby its LUKE WALTON time.
Lot of in n out shots for kobe tonight, arc is your friend man.
so what happened, following via gamecast.
and is ron point shaving?
@80: Terry shoved Blake on a drive to the hoop, Blake took exception, Barnes swooped in and went all crazy pills, at one point shrugging off one of the Mavs’ assistant coaches on his way to being ejected. Terry followed Barnes to midcourt barking at him with an official on his back.
Haywood did something to get booted too. And a fan just got yanked out by the Mavs’ bench.
A little playoff intensity tonight.
Tony Starks says
Those red coat ushers are on point!!!
damn, i felt very bad for Dirk…He is the only one scoring in this Mavs team tonight.
LO is the goods!!! Screw Dallas, we got this!!!
TOO BIG, TOO STRONG, TOO GOOD!!!
Yeah, if we meet the Mavericks in the Playoffs, we will take them out for sure.
I hope this lights a fire under Steve Blake for the rest of the season and into the playoffs.
eh, I’m gonna love this win, but am not gonna love losing bench depth in 2 very loseable upcoming games @UTA, and then Denver
i doubt barnes gets suspended. he never threw a punch at terry or that coach. i think he’ll just get a fine.
Flex the Pythons Ron-Ron
Once again, NYC Represent
If Lamar doesn’t win 6th man of the year the voting rights of some should be rescinded. He rebounds, he makes back to back to back threes and then he makes sweet passes to Kobe and Ron.
Sucks to get Barnes suspended when HCA is a real possibility, but part of me is hoping that Kobe gets suspended too since both him and Barnes need some time off. Not that they can’t manage their bodies, but extra rest will help. Or shall I say that there’ll be a silver lining if that happens?
As for this game, looks like it’s in the fridge, as is LO’s 6th man of the year.
Kobe, on the other hand, is having a miserable night with 10/14 FTs…
.. but all’s good. we let them play in the first half, but in the second…wow.
Woodshed whoopin’ guys!!!
Come on Phil, you substituted Joe Smith n for LO; now let’s get Pau out for Theo
Wow, that’s a lot of ejections for 1 game…
haha – I thought Dallas was much inproved this season with Ty Chandler ‘n all.
Guess they’re the same ‘ole chokers we’ve grown to know and love.
I hope the Lakers draw ’em in the playoffs.
are we going to have a bench tomorrow?
hopefully just barnes is suspended.
Well, that’s a nice win (albeit with a large number of ejections that may weaken the bench a little – I wonder how quickly the NBA will get onto it this time!). First spot in the West is actually looking more likely by the day. But either way, every W helps our quest for as much HCA as we can get.
5 made field goals for Mavs in the 4th with the last by Dirk at the 6:11 mark.
They sure did make a nice house laying up all those bricks.
Shannon doesn’t get suspended for that, in a regular game that’s just a T.
And don’t let the extracurricular activities detract from a TWENTY-SEVEN POINT WIN. And picking up a full game in the standings from SA and Dallas in one night.
I sure hope Luke will not have to play very much, heck, even at all.
To get your Ass Kicked by 27 in a “Statement Game” shows you don’t have the balls to win a Championship. They, Dallas, is second round fodder.
WOW – almost worth some suspensions in exchange for this type of win.
Talk about a statement game, in more ways than one.
By the way, what’s an assistant coach doing out there interfering with the players? Are they allowed to do that?
IMO, Barnes will get a three game suspension and Terry should get at least two for insighting it all.
Honestly, Mark Cuban is such a jack ass I always love it when his team gets frustrated.
Phil and leaving starters in during garbage time…
Only thing to complain about right now, though.
HD of the whole thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adJ5HdeELIw
Watch Barnes at 3:41: “Man, get the F off me.” Probably shouldn’t shuck off an assistant coach, but I’m not sure why he was doing that, Crawford was right in Barnes’ face. Nonetheless, hilarious.
I smell a three-peat!
The NBA will have to act quickly on any Lakers suspension since they have a game tomorrow at Utah. Barnes will definitley get at least one game.
Great win for the Lakers as they won the tie breaker agasinst Dallas and the top seed is now a possabilty
they already had the tie breaker against dallas by virtue of being division winners.
-If Terry was trying to shove a pushover, he picked the wrong guy. I remember reading practice reports from the Blazers beat guys about Blake getting into confrontations with much bigger players in practice.
-The real winner of this skirmish was Brian Cardinal. Watching that clip above, it’s probably the only time a sportscaster will put Kobe Bryant and Brian Cardinal in the same sentence.
-I love the coolness of the Lakers’ response. We all looked like seasoned veterans (the players on the bench especially).
Why was Shannon ejected?
The only player that will be suspended is Jason Terry for throwing a defenseless player to the floor after fouling him. There is no precedent to suspend a player like Barnes for coming over to protect a teammate after being pushed to the floor. Barnes didn’t even move Terry when he pushed him. He got what he deserved… An ejection.
I hope that’s the case Aaron..
And why was that assistant coach grabbing barnes anyway? your own team mates/friends should be the peacemakers not the coaches on the other team that was weird
Chris J says
I don’t know if I agree with you, Aaron. The league office is hard to read on these things so it wouldn’t shock me if Barnes gets a suspension, maybe for “failure to leave the floor quickly” or some other cockamamie crap Stu Jackson can dream up in New York.
Barnes was trying to walk off when Joey Crawford ran up on him, then the Mavs assistant was grabbing him and he kept saying to get off of him. There’s nothing really wrong there.
Honestly, the only one who deserves anything more than the ejection — if anyone — is Terry. That push on Blake was a punk move. But even that probably shouldn’t warrant a suspension. Refs just had to take a hard line tonight.
Oh, and Dallas sucks. Talk about a phony “contender.” They scare me less than the Nuggets.
Darius Soriano says
The game recap is up.
jterry is the only one who should get suspended. if andrew got 2 games for tweaking his arm on beasley, then pushing another player, going out of bounds and defenseless should be at least three if not more. but i don’t like the league affecting games two, three games after the fact. impact their wallet with heavy fines, not mucking around with teams rosters and punish fans.
i saw two teams tonight that are ready, willing and able to assert their will and two that look like they’re heading fishing. it’s still a lakers and celtics league.